Monday, June 09, 2008
Pitch, Hit & Run Team Championship
"First & foremost you must win your Team Championship to be eligible to compete in The All Star Game National Finals," said Matt Perez, Coordinator for "Pitch, Hit & Run" out of Atlanta, Georgia. "Every kids here knows--if they don't finish in first place, there will be no tomorrow."
Standing on the field at New Nationals Park--Mr. Perez and I were speaking--moments before 16 Kids, all Sectional Champions in their age groups, were about to begin a major competition. The Pitch, Hit & Run Team Championship for Our Washington Nationals was about to take place. These kids, from The District of Columbia, Virginia and Delaware had advanced on the strength of their youth baseball skills. Winners potentially moving on to compete in The National Finals--during The 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium--in The Bronx--this July.
This Team Championship was taking place on Saturday June 7th--The Time: 10:AM
Four groups of four different age group kids were on hand to show off their proficiency in the game. 7 & 8 Year Olds; 9 & 10 Year Olds, 11 & 12 Year Olds; and 13 & 14 Year Olds were the groupings. Each Sectional Champion must compete in the following skills competitions.
Pitching: From 45 Feet--How many times can you hit the strike zone target in six pitches. It's not about speed, it's about accuracy.
Hitting: Off a Tee, Three Swings to determine how far and how accurately you can place a baseball from home plate on a line to dead centerfield. Distance is reduced by the feet and inches any hit ball lands to the right or left of the centerfield lined tape measure.
Running: Simply how fast, on one attempt, each child can run 160 Feet (just past second base) to home plate. No do-overs.
Not only was the competition tough--to reach New Nationals Park was a long enduring process. Matt Perez explains: “At this point they have already competed in a local competition hosted by their local ball club, YMCA, park and recreation centers—which began on March 1st. From there, the winners advance to Sectional Competitions—all the local winners--which takes play in May. Then, after these kids first win their age group in Sectional Competition--their scores are compared against the other sectional winners in The Washington Nationals Team Market. The top four in each age group advance to participate today.”
And even if any of these 16 kids on hand at New Nationals Park win their Age Group--they are not guaranteed a spot in The National Finals. “Their scores will be compared against all the other Team Champions at all the other ballparks," stated Perez. "So, we will not know who will actually advance to The All-Star Game until the end of June—when the last Team Champions are named. Remember, only the top three overall from each age group (from all the Team Winners) will advance to the All-Star Game for the National Finals.”
All 30 Major League Baseball Clubs participate. In conjunction with Major League Baseball, each team provides the venue for their Team Championships. And if you were wondering--all Maryland Kids compete in The Baltimore Orioles Market. Not really sure why Delaware is linked to DC though. But whether you live in Fargo, North Dakota or Birmingham, Alabama--each kid is actually competing NATIONWIDE with every other child in their age group. That's a big competition for children.
None of whom seemed overly phased by the spotlight of playing on a Major League Field this past Saturday at New Nationals Park. In fact, most seemed to enjoy the opportunity. Their parents watching and taking pictures from the stands--quite envious.
Saturday's Washington Nationals Team Champions will be notified later this month whether or not they have qualified--based on their skills results--to The National Finals in New York City.
Just another Community Effort supported by Our Washington Nationals.